Lost in all the mania over long-hitting PGA champion John Daly is the fact that he got his start, so to speak, right here in Utah last fall when he won the Ben Hogan Utah Classic at Riverside Country Club.
At the time Daly said it was the biggest win of his life when he shot rounds of 65-69-69 to edge R.W. Eaks by one shot.Like he did at last week's PGA, Daly impressed fans with his prodigious distance off the tees. And like he did when he won, he got a big hug and kiss in the middle of the 18th green from his girlfriend, Bettye, who also served as his caddy at Riverside.
To capitalize on Daly's new-found fame, the organizers of the Ben Hogan Utah Classic, rushed out a two-page press release on Daly to go with press kits handed out at a press conference Wednesday at the University of Utah Golf Course.
By the way, Daly got a special invitation to come play in this year's tournament, Sept. 20-22 at Riverside before his PGA win, figuring he might be sentimental about defending his first professional victory. But Utah Classic tourney officials aren't holding their breath.UTAH OPEN ON TAP: The 1991 University Hospital-Utah Open gets under way Monday when some 150 players will play off for 80 spots to complete the 156-player field.
Former champions such as Mike Reid and Jay Don Blake won't be on hand for the main portion of the tourney since they will be competing at this week's World Series of Golf in Ohio. But as usual several players with PGA Tour ties will be at Willow Creek Country Club for the 54-hole event, played Friday through Sunday.
The most intriguing entrant is Mac O'Grady, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, who has banked over a million dollars on the tour. Also Orem's Keith Clearwater, who has been among the leaders at The International this week, is entered. Clearwater has been a regular at the tournament and is looking for his first Utah Open win.
Others include former PGA Tour regular Victor Regalado, who won the 1971 Utah Open, Billy Johnston, who won the 1954 and 1960 Utah Opens, and Perry Arthur, a PGA Tour part-timer, who won the 1987 University Hospital-Utah Open.CHANGE NEEDED: The Women's State Amateur came oh so close to making a travesty of its tournament last week. Thankfully Lachell Simmons sank a 4-foot putt on the final hole Friday to avoid a unfortunate situation where the winner may not have been decided on the golf course.
Apparently the bylaws of the Women's State Amateur state that if two women tie after 54 holes, the winner must be decided with an 18-hole playoff. That information was clearly posted on the board for all to see. But the competitors assumed a playoff would be either immediately after or the following day.
However, according to Eagle Mountain pro Reid Goodliffe, the playoff wouldn't have been held until Monday because of the problem of interrupting weekend play.
One large problem loomed, however. Simmons was taking off on a trip to the Northeast for 10 days on Saturday, meaning unless she switched all her plans, she would have missed a playoff with Jennifer Jones and lost by default, presumably. That scenario was avoided when Jones bogeyed the last hole.
The question remains - why does the Utah Women's Amateur cling to the archaic idea of deciding its championship with an 18-hole playoff? Nearly every tournament in the world outside the U.S. Opens, is decided by sudden-death.
And that's the best way to decide the Utah Women's Am champ. All the competitors would still be there to watch and to applaud the champion when she received her trophy. Who would come back a few days later for an anticlimactic 18-hole playoff?
If the Masters can be decided by sudden-death, then so can the Utah Women's Amateur.STRAY SHOTS: Several amateur events are on tap this weekend, including the Rose Park Best Ball, the Orem Amateur, the Sizzler Best Ball at Cedar Ridge, the Eastern Utah Amateur at Carbon and the Box Elder County Fair BB at Skyway . . . The 1991 Utah PGA Section Championship, sponsored by Spalding will be played Sept. 3-5 at the Homestead Resort Golf Course. Milan Swilor is the defending champion . . . Mike Gale won the Bonneville Club championship last week with rounds of 67 and 71. And he did it in style, too, making a hole-in-one at the 182-yard 18th hole. . . . The Utah Section's 11 qualifiers for the 1991 Ben Hogan Utah Classic include Bruce Brockbank, Brad Stone, Henry White, Steve Schneiter, Jeff Green, Mike Borich, Bruce Summerhays, Mark Davis, Chris Jones, Curtis Peterson and Glen Spencer. Six other spots will be filled by other players including Kim Thompson, the section champion, the senior champion and the top three on the Governor's Cup list through the Utah Open.